Leeds '˜still lags behind Manchester' as a retail centre - Ziff

Leeds is improving as a retail destination but still has some way to go to catch up to Manchester, one of the city's leading property developers has claimed.

Edward Ziff, Chairman and CEO Town Centre Securities, in his Office overlooking Leeds.

Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of Town Centre Securities (TCS), said that Leeds was disadvantaged by having a lower level of consumer spending than seen across the Pennines and that, while the opening of Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate had helped propel Leeds up the rankings, it was still languishing behind Manchester.

The businessman also said that the market for commercial property remained buoyant across the North of England but that repressed rental growth was still a factor outside London and the South East.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post from his firm’s offices in Merrion House, he said: “We have had some decent occupiers come along in Leeds.

The official opening of John Lewis and the Victoria Gate development in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

“But Manchester is still a long way ahead of us.

“Leeds was probably at one stage a top five retail city and it had probably fallen to eight, nine or ten, prior to the opening of Trinity and Victoria Gate.

“It is improving but whether we will get to catch up again is another matter.

“Consumer spending ability affects it. There perhaps are not enough wealthy people in Leeds, for me there is not the volume of wealth that there is in and around Manchester.

Manchester's soaring skyline, versus our eyesores

“Compare house prices in the choice suburbs of Leeds with the equivalents in Manchester, they are in a different league.

“You can’t just jump from being a top ten city to a top five city.”

TCS last week completed the sale two commercial properties in central Edinburgh for a total of £2m, higher than valuations carried out shortly after the British vote to leave the European Union.

“There are a signs of life which we are quiet pleased with ,” he said.

The official opening of John Lewis and the Victoria Gate development in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

“And interestingly we have a string of people after them. The real test is when we put stuff on the market.

“We are following it on with two bigger sales in the hope that we will get some decent interest in that.”

The sales will be for Glasgow’s Empire House and more of the Shandwick Place scheme in the west end of Edinburgh.

Mr Ziff said that the market was holding its own post-Brexit.

Manchester's soaring skyline, versus our eyesores

“What is really interesting is that before June 23 everything seemed fine. We had a two-speed economy where property values driving ahead in London and the provinces ticking ahead nicely.

“If you were to ask me on June 24 I would have said we would have are going to hit the buffers. But there is no sign of 07-08 levels, there is not the lack of credit that there was then.

“People are looking at the provinces, they get a bit of extra yield and because of that they get a bit of continued interest. We have had a few things we have been looking at post-Brexit that have been a bit surprising and on the buying side and things have continued. The reason for the two sales in Glasgow and Edinburgh is that we would like to reinvest the proceeds.”